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Reported loneliness rather than social isolation is a risk factor for 10-year mortality in older men

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Question: Do social isolation factors and feelings of loneliness predict an increased risk of mortality in older people, and does this relationship differ between men and women?

Population: 4004 city of Amsterdam residents aged between 65 and 84 years from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL). Participants were randomly selected from four age categories consisting of 5-year brackets and were representative of Amsterdam's elderly population. Structured interviews were conducted in each resident's home by trained and supervised interviewers.

Setting: Amsterdam city, The Netherlands; 1991–2001.

Prognostic factors: Feelings of loneliness, defined in the structured interview as the experience or subjective feeling of loneliness by the participant when asked the question ‘do you feel lonely?’. Social isolation, defined as either a lack of social support (assessed by asking participants if they had help from family, neighbours or home support), or being no longer married, single or living alone. Potential confounders were assessed in the structured interview at baseline including psychiatric disorders, medical disorders and conditions, smoking and drinking behaviours, cognitive functioning and functional status and demographic …

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  • Sources of funding The Netherlands Health Research Promotion Programme and The Netherlands Foundation of Mental Health.


  • Competing interests None.